What to Expect from This Giant’s Causeway Tour

A visit to Northern Ireland would not be complete without a trip to the Unesco World Heritage Site, The Giant’s Causeway. Flanked by a rugged coastline and stretching out into a tumultuous Atlantic Ocean, the causeway is an awe inspiring site. Formed by 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, it is over 62 million years old. Science tells us that it was formed during a volcanic eruption, but those of a more romantic nature prefer to believe the mythical tale that the causeway was laid by the Giant, Finn McCool.

If you choose to take the award winning Giant’s Causeway Tour, organised by Allen’s Tours, here is a little of what you can expect from your day. The tour begins at 9:30 am in Belfast. You can choose to depart from one of the convenient pick-up points dotted around the city. Alternatively, it is possible to pre book a complimentary shuttle pick-up from your hotel or guest house.

Once on board your bus, sit back and relax knowing that you’re safe in the hands of your knowledgeable driver and tour guide. As you make your way out of the city of Belfast, prepare to enter another realm as you experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

“I wish I was in Carrickfergus,
Where the castle looks out to the sea.”

The lyrics of this famous Irish folk song couldn’t be more appropriate as you make the first stop on your journey. The gateway to the beautiful Causeway Coast, Carrickfergus is home to a stunning Norman castle that you are free to explore. Take the opportunity to step back in time and stroll around the castle walls or climb the winding stairwells and take in the magnificent views across the harbour.

Back on board and it is time to head north. Look to your right and the Irish Sea stretches eastwards to Scotland. Look to the left and the Nine Glens of Antrim are laid out in all their emerald beauty. As you travel along the winding coastline the gorgeous views change constantly, quaint villages, historic castles, seascapes, waterfalls, bridges and stunning glens take the breath away.

Moving along the coast you may feel the scenery becomes more familiar. This could well be the case if you watch the TV serial Game of Thrones. Used as a backdrop for some of its scenes, the tiny village of Ballintoy is famous for another reason too. Stopping in the village, you will be given the opportunity to cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The infamous rope bridge spans the gap between the mainland at Ballintoy and the tiny island of Carrickarede. Not for the faint hearted, it requires some daring to make the trip across this bridge. For those who would prefer to keep their feet on terra firma, there is the opportunity to take in the lovely views and fresh sea air.

A short drive down the road and it is time for lunch at “The Giant’s Causeway Cafe”. Lunch is not included in the price of the tour and with only 30 minutes to stop and grab a bite, it may be worth considering taking a picnic to eat at a more leisurely pace.

With one more stop before your destination, those who enjoy a tipple will appreciate the next part of the excursion. Established in 1608 The Bushmills Whiskey Distillery is the oldest working distillery in Ireland. Priding itself on its local roots, generations of families have worked here producing fine Irish whiskey. As well as the opportunity to tour the distillery, there is the chance to sample the wares in the tasting room before buying your very own drop of Ireland in a bottle.

The afternoon is spent at the outdoor museum, The Giant’s Causeway. Once there you can choose to pick up a hand held audio guide and explore at your own pace. Alternatively, you can take a tour with one of the rangers who will explain the history of the causeway. The indoor Visitors’ Centre allows you to discover more about the mythology and science of the area through interactive displays. Other facilities include a gift shop, toilets and a coffee shop.

Whichever way you choose to explore, there really is something for everyone. An area of outstanding natural beauty, you can investigate the basalt polygons that rise from the ground, follow the coastal paths in search of flora and fauna or spot the many varieties of birds and wildlife. For the true believers search instead for Finn McCool’s Cave, the Giant’s Boot or the Wishing Chair.

The end of the day and time to climb on board the bus for the return trip to Belfast. But just when you thought Allen’s Belfast Bus Tours had shown you all there was to see, they have one more surprise stop.

The ruins of Dunluce Castle perch precariously on the cliffs of Antrim overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Joined to the mainland by an arched walkway and built above a secret cave, it is hauntingly beautiful. Woven into its long history are tales of mermaids, smugglers and piracy. A fairy tale castle, it provides the perfect backdrop for those keen to catch a romantic image of Irish history.

While the sun sets on what is hoped was a perfect day, it is time to head homeward to Belfast. As night falls you just have time for a nap before reaching your destination. Perhaps if you are really lucky you will dream of castles, mermaids and returning to The Giant’s Causeway, one day very soon.

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